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The major activities of ICARDA's Genetic Resources Section (GRS) are seed collection, acquisition, ex situ conservation, regeneration, characterization and distribution of genetic resources of ICARDA’s mandate crops. These are barley, wheat, food legumes (lentil, chickpea and faba bean) and feed legumes (vetch and grass pea).

The Center’s genebank, which was established in 1983, plays a crucial role in ex situ conservation. It holds over 148,000 accessions, most of which are unique landraces and wild relatives of cereals, legumes and forages, collected from dryland areas around the world. The genebank also holds over 1380 accessions of Rhizobium strains. Safe duplicates are held in other genebanks and in the Svalbard Seed Vault of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

A new methodology, known as Focused Identification of Germplasm Strategy (FIGS), has been developed to better target the utilization of genetic resources. GRS also conducts pre-breeding activities (e.g. introgression of genes from wild wheat and Aegilops species) to help broaden the genetic base. During 2012-14 ICARDA prepared 66,000 accessions for its collaborators, and 170 shipments were sent with Standard Material Transfer Agreements.

To ensure safety duplication of its genebank collection holdings, ICARDA has secured 100% of the germplasm collection in genebanks outside Syria. Nearly 80% of the collection is in Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. Other hosts include CIMMYT, ICRISAT, VIR-Russia, USDA, and India.

The genetic resources and genebank activities of ICARDA are carried out with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and Grains Research and Development Corporation, Global Crop Diversity, and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.

Please find the photo collection of ICARDA’s Genebank at Tel Hadya, Aleppo, Syria, at

For more details about ICARDA’s Genebank, please see our brochure.